First Ride: 2008 BMW F650GS

BMW comes over all coy about the size of its new 798cc middleweight. What’s up lads, got something to hide?

Click to read: BMW F650GS owners reviews, BMW F650GS specs and to see the BMW F650GS image gallery.

First of all let’s clear something up. BMW’s F650GS isn’t a 650, it has virtually the same 798cc engine as the F800GS. BMW is just very conscious about referring to it as an 800. Why? Well the marketing people in Bavaria reckon that 650 sounds a lot less intimidating than 800, and the last thing they want to happen is for this bike to scare anyone.

Much like the old single-cylinder F650GS the new F650GS is aimed at new riders, those returning to riding or those of the female variety. So, despite sharing the same engine as the F800GS BMW has managed to loose 14bhp somewhere between the two models by giving the F650GS a gentler throttle response thanks to a different fuel map and altered cam shaft. The styling is deliberately muted and less aggressive, the seat height almost sub-terranian and unlike the F800GS the 650 only comes with a single front brake disc, although it does get a much more road-orientated 19-inch front wheel. Doesn’t exactly sound a blast to ride, does it?

Well don’t be mislead, the F650GS is a very good bike, in fact it’s easily BMW’s best new-rider bike to date. Obviously if you are already caning around on a Blade then it’s not for you, but for the kind of riders that BMW are targeting this machine is a revolution.

Where the old single cylinder F650GS had more than its fair share of limitations due to its somewhat limp performance this new machine has nothing of the sought. Despite having a reduced amount of power the 650 kicks out a healthy 71bhp, which is enough to make cruising at 80mph on a motorway a possibility.

And this is the key to the new F650GS, because while it still does everything the old bike did to surround the rider in a blanket of user-friendliness, it has the potential for much more. The F650GS is no longer simply a bike for pottering around on, this new GS could take you to see the world.